Aug. 1, 2008
RIGA, Latvia - Washington State University men's basketball rising-junior Nikola Koprivica scored five points on 2-for-3 shooting from the field as Serbia defeated Russia, 84-75, Friday at the 2008 U20 Men's European Basketball Championship at the Olympic Sports Centre.
A native of Belgrade, Serbia, Koprivica came off the bench to add three rebounds, two assists and a steal to his five points in 19 minutes of action. Koprivica, a 6-foot-6 guard for the Cougars, is the lone captain for the Serbian U20 team.
"It was a big win for us because the most important game, maybe in the whole tournament, is the first one," Koprivica said. "Everyone wants to start well."
The game remained tight throughout the first three quarters as it was tied at 20 following the first period. Serbia took a 43-42 lead at halftime, before Russia regained the lead at the end of the third quarter to hold a 58-57 advantage. The Serbian squad took command of the fourth quarter, out-scoring the Russians 27-17.
"Russia is a pretty good team," Koprivica said. "We had problems during most of the game, but the fourth quarter we broke them down and got the win."
Koprivica scored three of his five points in the final quarter, adding all three of his rebounds, one assist and his lone steal while playing every minute of Serbia's fourth-period comeback.
"I'm the captain of the team and I'm kind of used to being on the court in important moments," Koprivica said. "I played pretty well, great defense, I was pretty happy about it and I'm happy about my performance. I'm hoping I will play even better tomorrow."
Serbia's Miroslav Raduljica led the team with a double-double of 30 points and 13 boards. His teammate Milan Macvan added 21 points and 11 rebounds. Russia's Alexey Shved led all scorers with 39 points, including 8-for-14 shooting from 3-point range.
Group play continues through Aug. 3 as Serbia takes on Slovenia, Aug. 2 and faces France, Aug. 3. Bracket play begins Aug. 4, before the championship game Friday, Aug. 8.